Ahead of the 2022 World Cup holding in Qatar in a few weeks, FIFA have written to the 32 participating national teams to focus mainly on the football.
Football’s governing body urged the teams to focus on the tournament in Qatar and not be part of lecturing on morality and dragging football “into every ideological or political battle that exists”.
This comes following growing pressure on players to be activists around the tournament. The host country Qatar has been massively criticized for its stance on same-sex relationships, its human rights record and its treatment of migrant workers.
Eight European teams have already committed to their captains wearing heart-shaped armbands — in breach of FIFA rules — to support an anti-discrimination campaign. Denmark’s national team announced they’ll be wearing a black team jersey at the tournament as a sign of “mourning” with kit provider Hummel saying it “does not wish to be visible” in a tournament it claims “has cost thousands of lives”.
“Please, let’s now focus on the football!” FIFA President Gianni Infantino and secretary general Fatma Samoura wrote in the letter.
“We know football does not live in a vacuum and we are equally aware that there are many challenges and difficulties of a political nature all around the world.
The letter continued,
“At FIFA, we try to respect all opinions and beliefs, without handing out moral lessons to the rest of the world.
“One of the great strengths of the world is indeed its very diversity, and if inclusion means anything, it means having respect for that diversity. No one people or culture or nation is ‘better’ than any other.
“This principle is the very foundation stone of mutual respect and non-discrimination. And this is also one of the core values of football. So, please let’s all remember that and let football take centre stage.”
They repeated long-standing promises made by Qatar, including by its Emir at the United Nations general assembly in New York in September, that all visitors to Qatar will be welcome “regardless of origin, background, religion, gender, sexual orientation or nationality.”